The Periodicals of American Transcendentalism

By Clarence L. F. Gohdes | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER V THE HARBINGER

With the adoption of a new constitution on May 1, 1845, the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education became a Phalanx, fashioned in many ways after the system of Charles Fourier, which Albert Brisbane had modified to meet the needs of America. The consequences of the change were numerous. The community lost its unique character, and became one of a surprisingly large number of experiments conducted in various parts of the country by the Associationists. Persons of very doubtful qualifications sought to become members. Fanatics and freakists with all sorts of grievances against society tried to make West Roxbury their rendezvous. The more or less naïve disregard for regulations and systematic organization that had prevailed during earlier days gave way to an elaborate scheme of Groups and Series, which was intended by Fourier to provide a scientific solution for the manifold problems presented by the necessity of a division of labor at once equitable, efficient--and pleasant. The situation that had existed in earlier days is to be seen in this excerpt from the Brook Farm records for February, 1843:

A special meeting called to consider the importance of more deliberation and accurate examination of facts before acting upon propositions, and after a discussion of internal economic changes, adjourned.

J. Burrill Curtis, Secretary.1

____________________
1
MS. records of Brook Farm in the library of the Mass. Hist. Soc. It should be stated that Fourierism had influenced the activities of the community before 1845. In The Dial for April, 1844 ( IV, 473), Elizabeth Peabody wrote: "We understand that Brook Farm has become a Fourieristic establishment." At that time Ripley and his associates began experimenting with the system, but it was not until the next year that the community was made a Phalanx.

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